Sunday, June 26, 2011

Poetry Summer Week 5: De Stove Pipe Hole

Made my husband listen to me pass of Success is Counted Sweetest. Only missed two words. Fixed em. Moving on. :)

Last night at my husband’s family reunion, we had a talent show. My son and two of his cousins (a time or two removed) sang the song at the end of Monsters, Inc and I’ve Been Watching You by Rodney Atkins. My in-laws roped me and my sister-in-law into singing a primary song (Where is Heaven), which we sang about 5 minutes after scanning the words, struggling to remember the tune, and singing a verse or two quietly to ourselves. One of Jerry’s adult cousins did a “skit” which consisted of a game of 20 questions preceded by the hint “two sisters both died in unique ways. Name the movie.” After a few unhelpful questions, a 10-year-old cousin chimed in with “The Wizard of Oz!” And thus ended the talent show.

So what does this have to do with poetry?

Me, Grandpa LeRoy's portrait,
my son, whose middle name is LeRoy,
and my mother, who passed
the theatre bug to me
Talent shows at my own family reunions (not that we really ever have them anymore, dang it) ALWAYS included my mother’s father in a rendition of De Stove Pipe Hole. My grandpa met my grandma when he directed a play she was in, and grandpa had a life-long love of the theatre that culminated in several years of annual community theatre performances of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Which I mention only to emphasize how dang entertaining his Da Stove Pipe Hole was. There were no indulgent smiles. No courtesy laughter or perfunctory applause. Grandpa was a hit, every time. At his funeral a few years ago, one of my cousins ably recited it in his honor, proving that I wasn’t the only grandchild to memorize it.

I, of course, memorized it years before he passed. He’d leant me a copy of the book it was in (this is pre-internet) and, though I ultimately lost the book, I memorized the poem first. My first (sophomore) year of high school, I used it to audition for the fall play. The piece was a lot longer than your average audition piece, but the drama teacher let me do the whole thing so she could see if it was long enough to enter into the upcoming drama competition. I’d never heard of such a thing, but I was happy to enter, and did very, very well. An obsession was born. Or, well, kept alive anyway.

So last night after Jerry’s family talent show, I was feeling a bit guilty. (Or was it limelight-deprived?) I considered offering to recite one of the poems I’d memorized for this challenge, but the most entertaining one, The Bells, really isn’t always a crowd pleaser. I could see people’s eyes glazing over. I could hear the perfunctory applause. I didn’t want it. So I started thinking about Da Stove Pipe Hole. I decided to see how much of it I could remember, in case I wanted to offer to perform around the campfire. I ran into some memory snags. I jumped on the super-slow internet (yay internet!) to refresh my memory and discovered there was more I hadn’t even remembered was IN there!

So that’s what I’m [re-]memorizing this week. I want Da Stove Pipe Hole firmly in my memory. I want to be able to whip it out for whatever talent show might happen along my way. I want to be able to entertain at the drop of a hat. I wonder if it would be appropriate for future book-signings. Yanno, in case I actually get published someday and no one wants to hear me talk about my book. :)

With that long introduction, here’s the long poem, which, if done properly, includes the explanation that a stove pipe is a long wide pipe that extends from the top of a wood-burning stove and carries the smoke out of the house. These pipes would often have to be cleaned, and would be removed for the purpose. This would leave a hole through several levels of the house:

De Stove Pipe Hole
by William Henry Drummond

Dat's very cole an' stormy night on Village St. Mathieu,
W'en ev'ry wan he's go couché, an' dog was quiet, too--
Young Dominique is start heem out see Emmeline Gourdon,
Was leevin' on her fader's place, Maxime de Forgeron.

Poor Dominique he's lak dat girl, an' love her mos' de tam,
An' she was mak' de promise--sure--some day she be his famme,
But she have worse ole fader dat's never on de worl',
Was swear onless he's riche lak diable, no feller's get hees girl.

He's mak' it plaintee fuss about hees daughter Emmeline,
Dat's mebbe nice girl, too, but den, Mon Dieu, she's not de queen!
An' w'en de young man's come aroun' for spark it on de door,
An' hear de ole man swear 'Bapteme!' he's never come no more.

Young Dominique he's sam' de res',--was scare for ole Maxime,
He don't lak risk hese'f too moche for chances seein' heem,
Dat's only stormy night he come, so dark you cannot see,
An dat's de reason w'y also, he's climb de gallerie.

De girl she's waitin' dere for heem--don't care about de rain,
So glad for see young Dominique he's comin' back again,
Dey bote forget de ole Maxime, an' mak de embrasser
An affer dey was finish dat, poor Dominique is say--

'Good-bye, dear Emmeline, good-bye; I'm goin' very soon,
For you I got no better chance, dan feller on de moon--
It's all de fault your fader, too, dat I be go away,
He's got no use for me at all--I see dat ev'ry day.

'He's never meet me on de road but he is say 'Sapré!'
An' if he ketch me on de house I'm scare he's killin' me,
So I mus' lef' ole St. Mathieu, for work on 'noder place,
An' till I mak de beeg for-tune, you never see ma face.'

Den Emmeline say 'Dominique, ma love you'll alway be
An' if you kiss me two, t'ree tam I'll not tole noboddy--
But prenez garde ma fader, please, I know he's gettin ole--
All sam' he offen walk de house upon de stockin' sole.

'Good-bye, good-bye, cher Dominique! I know you will be true,
I don't want no riche feller me, ma heart she go wit' you.'
Dat's very quick he's kiss her den, before de fader come,
But don't get too moche pleasurement--so 'fraid de ole Bonhomme.

Wall! jus' about dey're half way t'roo wit all dat love beez-nesse
Emmeline say, 'Dominique, w'at for you're scare lak all de res?
Don't see mese'f moche danger now de ole man come aroun','
W'en minute affer dat, dere's noise, lak' house she's fallin' down.

Den Emmeline she holler 'Fire! will no wan come for me?'
An Dominique is jomp so high, near bus' de gallerie,--
'Help! help! right off,' somebody shout, 'I'm killin' on ma place,
It's all de fault ma daughter, too, dat girl she's ma disgrace.'

He's kip it up long tam lak dat, but not hard tellin' now,
W'at's all de noise upon de house--who's kick heem up de row?
It seem Bonhomme was sneak aroun' upon de stockin' sole,
An' firs' t'ing den de ole man walk right t'roo de stove pipe hole.

W'en Dominique is see heem dere, wit' wan leg hang below,
An' 'noder leg straight out above, he's glad for ketch heem so--
De ole man can't do not'ing, den, but swear and ax for w'y
Noboddy tak' heem out dat hole before he's comin' die.

Den Dominique he spik lak dis, 'Mon cher M'sieur Gourdon
I'm not riche city feller, me, I'm only habitant,
But I was love more I can tole your daughter Emmeline,
An' if I marry on dat girl, Bagosh! she's lak de Queen.

'I want you mak de promise now, before it's come too late,
An' I mus' tole you dis also, dere's not moche tam for wait.
Your foot she's hangin' down so low, I'm 'fraid she ketch de cole,
Wall! if you give me Emmeline, I pull you out de hole.'

Dat mak' de ole man swear more hard he never swear before,
An' wit' de foot he's got above, he's kick it on de floor,
'Non, non,' he say 'Sapré tonnerre! she never marry you,
An' if you don't look out you get de jail on St. Mathieu.'

'Correc',' young Dominique is say, 'mebbe de jail's tight place,
But you got wan small corner, too, I see it on de face,
So if you don't lak geev de girl on wan poor habitant,
Dat's be mese'f, I say, Bonsoir, mon cher M'sieur Gourdon.'

'Come back, come back,' Maxime is shout--I promise you de girl,
I never see no wan lak you--no never on de worl'!
It's not de nice trick you was play on man dat's gettin' ole,
But do jus' w'at you lak, so long you pull me out de hole.'

'Hooraw! Hooraw!' Den Dominique is pull heem out tout suite
An' Emmeline she's helpin' too for place heem on de feet,
An' affer dat de ole man's tak' de young peep down de stair,
W'ere he is go couchè right off, an' dey go on parloir.

Nex' Sunday morning dey was call by M'sieur le Curé
Get marry soon, an' ole Maxime geev Emmeline away;
Den affer dat dey settle down lak habitant is do,
An' have de mos' fine familee on Village St. Mathieu.

Pretty cool, huh?

I'd like to challenge all the #PoetryChallenge participants to memorize at least one poem that would serve them well in a talent show. Something with an exciting story, humor, and that requires a bit of flair. Yes, I'd be happy to coach your delivery when you're ready. (If we're ever in the same city.) So who's with me? 

Anyone else have good family reunion talent show memories?


  1. Define memorize. lol Just because I could remember a long piece for this doesn't mean I'd remember it next month. =D

    What a fun poem though, especially with your memories.

  2. When I was in third grade, I had to memorize Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It was purty dang long to me, at least back then. Hee

    What a lovely picture of you and your mom and little guy!

  3. That is one of the things us cousins who did not grow up in Utah missed, the memories of constant contact with our grandparents. I never knew until now that this was one of Grandpa's favorite poems to recite. I can remember him reciting briar rabbit though, and listening on a reel to reel tape player in Massachusetts as a little boy.

  4. Donna--Yeah, if you're gonna be able to whip it out, you're going to want to have it next month, too. More repetition! :)

    Anita--when I was young, I'd memorize long things for breakfast.

    Eric--I'll bet you never got to be in one of his marionette shows either, huh? What a poor, deprived childhood! I weep for you!

  5. No, I never got to be in one of his marionette shows, but that is okay. While I may not have as many memories of Grandpa as you did I still have many cherished memories.

    In fact I can remember being a missionary in Utah in Orem and meeting the principle or someone close to that level who worked with Grandpa at the school he did the marionettes at. They told me how appreciative they were of him and all that they he did for the kids that went their.

    And while I wasn't around him as much, I still have his love for the theater and the arts, and it makes me feel that a part of his is part of me.

  6. Your family reunions sound like a lot of fun. And wow! My favorite poem is Jabberwocky by Lewis Carrol. Something about all those nonsense words that still have meaning. :)

  7. Danyelle--I love Jabberwocky, too! "Come to my arms, my beemish boy! Oh, frabjous day! Calloo, callay, he chortled in his joy."

    Sadly, I've already memorized that one, so I can' use it for the challenge. :)